Here We Stand
If Green Day were cool, they’d be The Fratellis. There’s only so far you can go with power chord anthems without sounding like you’re kicking a dead horse.
There’s also a certain fullness required to elevate a band’s sound to a higher level, no matter how small a band’s numbers or simple their instrumentation. Social Distortion was never able to get this right, and the White Stripes got off the train a while ago.
But The Fratellis are different – this Scottish-based group doesn’t need three guitarists or a traveling background band to reach a rich and full sound, and unlike their fellow three-man (and two-man) groups of the genre, it isn’t a chore to sit through their entire albums. With only three members and after only two releases, the group is maturing fast.
Here We Stand, The Fratellis latest June release, shows off their roots as a Scottish pub band without wearing it on their sleeves. The Scottish folk-anthem influence is apparent from start to finish, and while it isn’t as poppy as their 2007 Costello Music, it’s about as energetic as it gets.
Throughout the album there’s never really a dull moment, which really sets it apart from countless other sleep-inducing groups in the same vein. Something about their production is just plain listenable, despite its unwavering upbeat feeling (which is almost always a pitfall in other cases).
Here We Stand isn’t complicated – the chord progressions are basic and the drum lines run together. Yet somehow the band manages to pull it together in a compelling and interesting manner, with a depth that outreaches the band’s basic instrumentation and style. An occasional piano gives the album an energetic pulse, and even the slower ballad “Babydoll” is enjoyable throughout, despite the fact that it rarely changes.
Lead singer and guitarist Jon Fratelli shines throughout the album. His voice naturally fits to the music, at times sounding like a late John Lennon (Stone Temple Pilot lead vocalist Scott Weiland’s similar attempts pale in comparison). Worthy of note is his performance on the vindictive “Stragglers Moon,” a brooding Beatles-like track that could have easily come off of a modern Magical Mystery Tour.
There’s nothing unnecessary about this album. It’ll keep you awake, and it’ll keep you listening.
–Justin T. Ho
Give these tracks a listen:
Look Out Sunshine!
For fans of:
Excerpt from “A Heady Tale“
So steal the watch from off my wrist
Oh and shake me by the hand
We could disappear for days
And they wouldn’t understand
Gypsy blood will get you far
And they will not miss you when you go
Tear another hole in my brown shoes
And we can all sleep for a while
Well I told you once before I love your braces
And your hesitant smile
But please don’t get me wrong – it’s only right
That you can stamp on my heart
Well I’ve seen you and your friend some place
You know I just can tell you apart